Prove your love

Marriage Day
Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)
The Canadian government is on the lookout for fake marriages designed to acquire status
Ryan Rosenberg

I could open this article by quoting from one of the thousands of love songs purporting to ask or answer a question about genuine love. Instead, since this is a column about immigration law, I’ll try to put it in simplified legalese. A person intending to immigrate to Canada as sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse will not qualify for immigration if the underlying relationship is not genuine and was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring status in Canada. Simpler yet, fake marriages don’t cut it and Citizenship and Immigration Canada is on the lookout.

Sponsorship rules
Under Canadian immigration laws, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor their husband or wife, common-law partner or conjugal partner. A successful and thorough sponsorship application will land your better half in Canada relatively quickly, as compared to other types of immigration applications. At the same time, a flawed, incomplete application can keep genuine spouses apart for an indefinite amount of time.

Aside from the many forms, police record checks and medical testing that an applicant must endure, CIC has made it a priority to keep fake marriages out of Canada. These regulations have been strengthened over the years to combat the high number of fraudulent cases, also known as marriages of convenience. As a consequence of these regulations, many applications based on genuine relationships are refused, forcing the applicant and the sponsor to appeal the decision, adding up to an additional year to the application processing times, plus the stress and cost of an appeal.

Prove it’s genuine
So when you complete an application to sponsor your spouse, make extra effort in gathering and submitting evidence to prove that your relationship is in fact “genuine.” I typically categorize evidence into two groups, “sentimental evidence” and “hard evidence.”

The primary type of sentimental evidence used is photographs. Submit a selection of photographs that capture the essence of your relationship. Photos of spouses together on vacation, with each other’s close family and at major life events (birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc.) are usually well received by the government. Do not make the mistake of only submitting photos from a single day or only photos where you are wearing the same outfit. Your photos should represent different milestones in your relationship and not just the wedding.

Other sentimental evidence to submit includes copies of birthday/holiday cards, email printouts, Facebook printouts, love letters, wedding invitations and reference letters from close friends or family that confirm the nature of your relationship. I had a client once who wanted to submit a racy video that he said confirmed beyond doubt that his relationship was real. I told him he was taking it too far.

More evidence
I classify all legal and third party documents as “hard evidence.” Hard evidence that you should plan to submit include copies of a power of attorney, copies of wills or life insurance policies, naming each spouse as the other’s beneficiary, copies of leases or land title certificates, showing both spouses as tenants or owners and copies of bank statements, showing both spouses as joint account holders.

It is also worthwhile to submit copies of boarding passes, hotel reservations, receipts for gifts and dinner, and passport stamps to prove that visits between spouses actually took place. Phone bills are an excellent way to confirm communication between spouses while separated.

Explain well
My final tip is to be thorough in explaining your evidence. Explain what each piece of evidence is and why you are submitting it. Handing a visa officer a pile of evidence without any explanation makes their job difficult. In submitting your application, your goal should be to make the visa officer’s job as easy as possible to approve your application as quickly as possible.

A thorough and complete application, leaving no questions to be answered, may even get you out of an interview and thereby speeding up your application processing. Visa officers are empowered with the discretion to waive interviews for applications where it is clear that the relationship is genuine. As such, the extra time that you put into gathering and explaining evidence will save you much hardship and hassle down the road.

While we all know that finding and maintaining true love is a lot of work, there is no need for an immigration application to follow suit. As when searching for that special someone, when completing a sponsorship application, be honest, open, convincing and thorough.

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Canada seeks foreign workers

By: Patrick Thibodeau On: 10 Jul 2007 For: Computerworld (US online) Creator
For Colin Hansen, minister of economic development in British Columbia, Microsoft's decision last week to open a software development center in Vancouver was proof that Canada's strategy to grow its economy is working.

O Canada, indeed. No H-1B visa cap. An immigration system that favors tech workers. An exchange rate that puts the Canadian dollar almost at parity with its U.S. counterpart. And now an endorsement from Microsoft Corp. as a place to develop software.

For Colin Hansen, minister of economic development in British Columbia, Microsoft's decision last week to open a software development center in Vancouver was proof that Canada's strategy to grow its economy is working. And it's a strategy that is very dependent on foreign workers. Hansen said the economy in British Columbia is growing by as much as 4.5 percent a year, with technology being the fastest-growing sector. The province's total workforce is now at about 2.3 million people, and Hansen predicts that over the next 12 years, there will be approximately 1 million job vacancies in British Columbia -- half the result of retirements, and the other half due to the creation of new jobs.

But over that same 12-year period, the province's secondary schools are expected to graduate a total of about 650,000 students. "On the very face of it, we will be short 350,000 workers, which will have to come through immigration," Hansen said.

The Canadian government has specific programs for quickly bringing high-tech workers with certain skills into the country, a process that can take two to eight weeks, said Evan Green, an immigration attorney and partner at Toronto-based law firm Green and Spiegel.

The government "recognizes that these people don't exist" within Canada, Green said. He added that if an employer is seeking a worker who has a specific set of skills, education and work experience and will be paid a salary on par with what Canadians earn, a foreigner can successfully get a work permit. Unlike the annual cap on the number of H-1B visas issued in the U.S., there is no numerical limit on foreign workers entering Canada, according to Green.

Microsoft, which is been a vocal critic of the H-1B program's restrictions, announced July 5 that it plans to open the development center in Vancouver -- a mere 150 miles from the company's Seattle-area headquarters. The software vendor said it decided to set up the Vancouver facility, which is due to open in the fall, partly to help it "recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S."

It was a stick-in-the-eye announcement to opponents of legislative proposals to increase the H-1B cap, and it came as Congress prepares for the next round of that debate following the recent failure in the Senate of a broad immigration reform bill that would have raised the visa cap.

John O'Grady, an economic and statistical analysis consultant in Toronto, said he thinks Canada is becoming attractive to companies like Microsoft for more reasons than its immigration policies alone. "The pendulum is just beginning to swing in our favor," he said.

One thing that's helping Canada retain jobs and create new ones is the fact that the Canadian dollar now is trading at about 1.03 to the U.S. dollar -- much higher than in years past.

The Canadian Federal Immigrant Investor Program

All countries these days will be looking to their respective governments to inject money into crucial business sectors. Canada is no different in attempting to stimulate its economy via government spending; naturally the government will be looking for low-cost capital to fund things like infrastructure projects. This is where Canadian immigration can provide a source of investment capital. Individuals and managerial or entrepreneurial experience can qualify for a Canadian Permanent Resident Visa by investing with the Canadian government at zero interest for five years, under what is called the “Federal Immigrant Investor Program” (FIIP). It is one of three different categories of Canadian Business Class Immigration. They are Investor, Entrepreneur and Self-Employed Persons. Immigrants with a high net worth (in excess of 800,000 CAD) can expedite entry into Canada by investing 400,000 at zero interest with the Federal Immigrant Investment Program (FIIP) in return for a Permanent Resident Visa. The FIIP was developed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to promote economic development by allowing well qualified business people to fast track their applications, reducing the processing time to around 16 – 18 months. Canada gets to use the Immigrant Investor’s money for five years with no interest. There is no risk to the immigrant investors; after five years they receive the full investment back. Less than 1% of potential immigrants to Canada apply for this program, possibly because they have to be invited to participate. They have to qualify so those who have revealed their net worth in the required amounts would be approached. There are normally about 7,000 Immigrant Investor applicants in queue in the FIIP awaiting assessment at any one time, all of whom are ready and eager to make their required 0,000 investment. They are simply waiting for their immigration processing to be completed. This translates to 2.8 billion in available capital that can be put to use in the funding of infrastructure projects.

Besides speeding up immigrant visa applications, there are other benefits to entering under the FIIP. Unlike the entrepreneur program where your business is monitored and reviewed by the Federal government, you are free to settle anywhere in Canada, take any job, go to school, or just enjoy life if your money supply allows it. None of the investor categories have language, education or business experience requirements. The Immigrant Investor and immediate family members gain Canadian Permanent Residency and in return Canada develops access to an inexpensive pool of capital to help fund its stimulus spending.

Canada has the world’s soundest banking system according to a survey by the respected World Economic Forum. Thanks to an economic system with institutions that most American politicians might brand as “socialist”, Canada will do much better than other Western nations to restore economic order. In fact many economists predict that Canada will be the first advanced country to come out of this worldwide economic crisis. Canada has a diversified economy with a low debt burden, flexible labor markets and proper fiscal management going back for more many years. Canadian banks have not needed the government bailouts that have become a necessity in the US and many European countries.

As far as immigration is concerned, Canada is a favored destination and consistently ranks as one of the top countries in the world for overall quality of life. And despite, or perhaps because of, the current global economic environment, many successful entrepreneurs and managers around the world are considering Canada as their destination of choice to begin a new life for themselves and their families.


Canada's most wanted: Semi-skilled workers

David Fuller discovers it is not only skilled workers that Canada is so desperate for

A recent article in Canada's Financial Post newspaper stated that the "shortage of skilled labour in Canada is reaching the point of a national crisis."

According to the newspaper, Canada's construction sector will need approximately 260,000 new workers over the next eight years, while it is estimated the mining industry will need around 10,000 people per year for the next ten years in order to stave off shortages.

It is not uncommon to read statistics such as this in the Canadian media, nor has it been for a good few years now. Indeed, it is because of the persisting skills shortages that Canada's immigration programme is currently so geared towards attracting skilled workers.

What doesn't tend to be so widely reported, though, is that industries deemed to be 'semi' or 'low' skilled such as trucking, food services, and tourism, are also in desperate need of workers.

As those of you familiar with the workings of Canada's federal Skilled Worker system will already be aware, in order to be eligible for emigration to Canada you need to have had work experience in occupations classed as Skill Level A (professional occupations) or B (occupations and skilled trades), or Skill Type 0 (managerial occupations) on the National Occupations Classifications list to be eligible for a visa.

This means people who only have experience in the aforementioned 'lesser' skilled occupations do not stand a chance of being awarded a federal skilled visa.

However, there are still opportunities available for workers deemed to be semi-skilled.

A number of Canada's provincial governments are realising that semi-skilled industry shortages could be as costly to their economies as those in skilled sectors, and have either introduced a semi-skilled stream (Alberta and BC) or a scheme designed to specifically target particular semi-skilled workers (for example, truck drivers in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick) through their Provincial Nominee Programmes (PNPs).

"Demand for semi-skilled workers certainly appears to be increasing," confirms Craig MacBride, the Public Affairs Officer at the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development for British Columbia. "In 2006, BC employed 953,000 lesser-skilled workers, accounting for 45.5 per cent of the total workforce in the province, while in 2001, there were roughly only 806,000 lesser-skilled workers employed in BC – or 42.8 per cent of BC's total labour force. Therefore, during the period of the last two censuses, the number of lesser-skilled workers increased by 147,000 people," he adds.

What's more it is unlikely that there will be a decrease in the number of semi-skilled shortages in the foreseeable future.

"According to the 'Canadian Occupational Projection System – BC Unique Scenario', of the 1.1 million new job openings projected until 2015, 74 per cent will require a university degree or some form of post-secondary education," continues MacBride. "Twelve per cent of the new job openings will require some high school experience and 14 per cent will require high school

graduation. In absolute terms, there will still be close to 300,000 'low- and semi-skilled' jobs becoming available in BC during this period."

Upon announcing its 'Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled' PNP earlier this year, the BC government stated that current industry growth patterns reveal that the province's tourism/hospitality sector would require an additional 84,000 workers over the next ten years – or, to put it another way, one new job every hour over the coming decade. Little surprise, then, that this sector is particularly catered for through the scheme (see box, left).

In order to qualify for nomination, applicants must have been employed in an eligible occupation by a sponsoring company on a temporary work permit for at least nine months prior to the date of application to the PNP and must be legally employed by the sponsoring company at the time of application.


Canada/Mexico labour mobility pilot project now accepting applications

(Sep. 25/08) Mexico, Canada and four participating provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec are developing a pilot project for the recruitment of Temporary Foreign Workers from Mexico to Canada within two industry sectors: construction and tourism/hospitality.

The pilot is expected to be launched late fall with the first workers arriving early in the new year. The unique feature of this particular pilot project is that Mexico’s national employment service will play a role in identifying the eligible candidates for employers, who would then make the final decision regarding potential workers.

In the first year, the objective is for 2,000 workers to be identified through this initiative and split evenly among the four provinces. Each province can expect to receive approximately 500 workers divided between the two sectors. Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba have confirmed the following occupations for Mexico’s recruitment: within the hotel and lodging industry: front desk clerks and housekeeping attendants; within the food and restaurant industry: cooks, kitchen helpers, food counter attendants and food and beverage servers (Manitoba only).

The pilot project will allow for workers to receive up to a two-year work permit, consistent with the Labour Market Opinion. Employers will still be required to seek a positive Labour Market Opinion from HRSDC/Service Canada, and workers will still need to apply to CIC for a work permit. Employers in Alberta and British Columbia will be asked to absorb the costs of English testing, medical assessments and work permits in exchange for their participation in the pilot.

Alberta and Manitoba officials would like to limit participation to a few employers with foreign worker recruitment experience who are willing to apply for groups of employees in the designated occupations in order to help ensure the pilot is successful.

Provincial Tourism Sector Council organizations – go2 in British Columbia and MTEC in Manitoba – have agreed to coordinate the pilot project on behalf of the Tourism and Hospitality industries in British Columbia and Manitoba. They are currently developing application processes for employers.

Alberta government officials want to move quickly and are hoping to meet with CRFA and small group of interested employers in the coming weeks to discuss next steps in the process. Manitoba officials will be setting up a similar meeting shortly.

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